Habitat selction of Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) in the breeding ground Peninsula Vald?s.
Nicol?s Sueyro; Maria Grazia Pennino; Enrique Crespo and Mariano Coscarella
We implemented a Bayesian hierarchical spatial model (BHSM) to identify which environmental variables mostly affect the Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) distribution in northern Patagonia and to predict their probability of occurrence in un-sampled locations. The model estimation and prediction were performed for each one of the time periods (i.e., period1: 1999-2000; period2: 2004-2007; period3: 2008-2012; period4: 2013-2016) to evaluate changes in the SWR distribution in the area in a population growing context. The selected model included as predictor variables the roughness of the seafloor, the wave energy, and the spatial effect. These results indicate that during the first period the area where the whales were found changed from one survey to the next and could be found almost in most coastal areas inside the sampling area, but their location was variable. As the time passed, the selection of coastal areas, related to low wave energy and consolidated seabed was evident.